Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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UK: rise in Minimum Income Requirement may be unlawful

The continued rise in MIR is keeping British Citizens from returning home with their families.

A legal challenge to the dramatic increase in Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for British Citizens to obtain visas for their foreign partners may make it possible for EFL teachers to return home with their families.

The amount British citizens must show they can earn has recently been raised from an attainable £18,600 per annum to £29,000; well above the potential earnings of most classroom EFL teachers in the private sector. This is soon set to rise to £34,500 later this year, a salary only attainable by a Director of Studies working in London and the Southeast. An additional increase to £38,700, a figure virtually unknown outside the state sector, is expected by ‘early 2025’.

British EFL teacher Sarah Douglas, who has worked in Italy since 2007, told The Guardian that she and her husband of 14 years, Matteo Cipolloni, have been planning to move back to her home in Scotland to be near her family, but she cannot meet the new income threshold.

Instead they are trying to save £88,500, the cash sum which can be paid as an alternative to the income threshold before the amount required rises again. Cases like Sarah’s have led the pressure group Reunite Families UK (RFUK) to the High Court for Judicial Review of the new law on the grounds that it is contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the child, and that it disproportionately affects women, ethnic minorities and young people.

‘Being told by someone else that I cannot return to my own country with my husband is infuriating,’ said Douglas. ‘I feel a lack of control over my own life and feel abandoned and ignored by my government. It is heartbreaking.’

Thousands of UK EFL teachers married to foreign nationals, as many of the British Council teachers in Taiwan are, may feel the same.

Meanwhile, the UK EFL industry, whose teacher shortage has been reduced in recent years by the return of TEFLers from abroad, may also be affected. Brexit has already deprived them of their pool of EU teachers and now the steep rise in the MIR may cut off the supply of married teachers looking to come home from Thailand, Tunisia or even Taiwan.

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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